Peruse the shelves a scant 30 years ago and books by Asian Americans would be few and far between. However, times have changed thanks to key individuals who have etched the trails for API writers today.
Novelist and teacher Peter Bacho believes everybody has a story to tell. The Filipino American recalls his own humble beginnings, growing up poor in Seattle’s Central District in the 1950s. A juris doctorate, masters degree and two award-winning novels later, Bacho is now being honored as a pioneer who paved the way for Asian Americans in literature.
According to former editor Naomi Pascal, she was associated with the Press “almost from the beginning, with the development of the Press’ pioneering program of publishing books by and about Asian Americans.” In 1973, the Press had issued or reissued “a long list of books on subjects of special interest to Asian Americans,” she said.
Mayumi Tsutakawa has racked up a large number of achievements during a career spanning several different fields. Straight out of grad school, she became the first Asian American female reporter at a daily newspaper in the Seattle area. She later wrote and edited several anthologies, including the first anthology of Asian American women’s writings.
As the publisher of Sasquatch Books, Gary Luke feels a sense of honor and responsibility to make his company an outlet for diverse perspectives.
Lensey Namioka is a woman of many talents, but with a great passion. Now a unique storyteller, Namioka started off in mathematics. “I realized early that I wasn’t going to do any original, creative work in math,” she said. “At first, I did some translation of Chinese mathematics into English, but that was kind of boring so I started writing articles, humorous articles at first.”
The 1960s were a formative time for a second generation Chinese American like Shawn Wong. As an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, he joined the nation in trying to grasp the evolving notion of identity.
Aki Sogabe Pioneer in Publishing Who could have imagined that a little girl in Japan experimenting with paper cutting would one day grow up to illustrate books and exhibit works of art in America?